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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Hundreds Gather at Scene Of Shooting; Crowds Gathering to Protest Teen's Death; New U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq; Interview with Brett McGurk; Wife: Robin Williams Had Parkinson's Disease
Aired August 14, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news, police bracing for another tense night in Missouri after a night of violent clashes between protesters and police. You're looking at live pictures of what's being called a war zone. This in America. Just who is in charge? We're live in Ferguson tonight.
Plus journalists targeted by police. A television crew hit with tear gas, two reporters detained. One of them OUTFRONT tonight.
Robin Williams, we have just learned the actor was battling Parkinson's disease. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the city's turmoil spreading across the United States. With officials in Ferguson, Missouri, bracing for the worst, crowds are mobilizing in many places including the scene where Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer.
Police and protesters have faced off every night since Brown was shot turning this St. Louis suburb into what looks like a war zone. Chaos again on the streets last night with crowds throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails at police. Officers striking back with tear gas.
During the chaos, two reporters were placed under arrest. We're going to be speaking with one of those reporters shortly tonight. The situation has even commanded the attention of the president of the United States. On President Obama's vacation, he chose to address the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is never an excuse for violence against the police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism for looting. There's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight people are gathering across the country including in New York City where a moment of silence is about to begin.
We have a team of reporters standing by. David Mattingly in Ferguson, Missouri, Ed Lavandera in St. Louis where crowds are gathering. Ted Rowlands in Los Angeles monitoring another protest expected to begin shortly.
First though, I want to go to Don Lemon. He is in the middle of these protests. He joins me on the phone. Don, after last night, all the violence, the tear gas, the Molotov cocktails, what is the mood tonight where you are?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): When I first got here, I have to be honest with you, there were chants where people were yelling and screaming. Now I think that they have sort of gotten a grip on the protest here. We're standing in the middle of the protest.
We're right in front of the QT, the Quick Trip where Michael Brown was before he died on Saturday, on Saturday afternoon. Then just about a half mile down the street around the corner is where he died. And people have been marching from the QT and then to the place where he died back and forth.
They have been chanting, no justice. No peace. Hands up, man down. What do we want, justice, when do we want it, now. And everyone who has been here, the community organizers and everyone, they have been saying, Erin, they want this to be peaceful because they want the country to see that Ferguson means business about this.
And they're frustrated with what they feel is an occupation by law enforcement in this community. You can hear them screaming now. That's the scene -- Erin.
BURNETT: Don Lemon, thank you. We'll be going back to Don as he sees more happening here. Because, of course, Don is in the center of this. Interesting the words he used that people in the crowd there that you can see live pictures of from the air as they're gathering here early in the evening.
He used the word, they believe that they're under an occupation by police. We're going to be joined by the former police chief of St. Louis. Ed Lavandera is in St. Louis, part of broader Ferguson, where another rally is taking place.
I can see the St. Louis arch behind. You what can we expect where you are? What is the mood of the protest there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The crowd here has just started gathering, a diverse crowd that is gathering in the shadow of the arch that you see behind me here. And we've been told that the mother of Michael Brown will be making an appearance here at some point or is expected to make an appearance here at some point.
Not clear whether or not she'll have anything to say to this crowd. This is one of several events like this that's being described as a national moment of silence in honor of the teenager, Michael Brown, who was killed last weekend here in the St. Louis area.
But the crowds starting to show up there and just kind of gathering in the shadows of the arch here tonight, Erin. This is an event that's just now getting under way, very quiet, and very calm here. We're seeing, but as I mentioned, just now starting.
BURNETT: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you. We'll go back to Ed, as he said. Michael Brown, the teenager who was killed, his mother may be where Ed is tonight. So we're going to keep you apprised of that what she has to say addresses the crowd.
Missouri's governor has just announced the state's highway patrol is under control. Obviously that's a change. The city had been rocked by violence ever since the 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot on Saturday afternoon.
David Mattingly is OUTFRONT live in Ferguson. David, what is the situation like tonight considering as we said there has now been a big shift in terms of who's in charge?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we've seen so far is that the crowds today are larger, they're louder, and a sign that the escalation that we've seen this past week is continuing. As the police tactics here have backfired.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Four straight nights of outrage and confrontation. Looting on Sunday. Tear gas on Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home. You'll be subject to arrest.
MATTINGLY: Escalation on Tuesday and chaos on Wednesday. Police arrest two journalists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have time to ask question. Let's go.
MATTINGLY: One television crew is hit with tear gas. Moments caught on tape prompt presidential accusations of bullying.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: There's no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their first amendment rights.
MATTINGLY: Making matters worse, militaristic looking snapshots taken in the moment and driven by social media project a powerful and disturbing image of officers on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole picture's being painted a little bit sideways from what's happening. And it's not military, it's tactical operations, it's SWAT teams. That's who is out there. Police, we are doing this in blue.
MATTINGLY: But opinions forged in this highly emotional case may be hard to shake with just words.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you've got this level of hostility, you're going to have entrenched ideas and suspicions. MATTINGLY: Connie Rice is a civil rights activist and attorney who worked to reform the L.A. Police Department after the Rodney King riots in 1992.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you have that kind of flashpoint, it's very hard to get beyond it because you don't have the setup for a smooth, trustful resolution.
MATTINGLY: And Missouri Governor Jay Nixon now calls for a change of tactics as the state patrol takes over the policing of Ferguson.
GOV. JAY NIXON *D), MISSOURI: I know that Ferguson will not be defined as a community that was torn apart by violence, but will be known as a community that pulled together to overcome it. Today is the day that we renew our commitment to bring peace to the families of Ferguson.
MATTINGLY: But with each night, demonstrators so far have become more defiant, prompting strong police action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.
MATTINGLY: And further blurring their public image from protector to oppressor.
MATTINGLY: The Justice Department Community Relations Unit also on the ground here working behind the scenes trying to put the lid back on things. We saw them working effectively in Sanford to keep everything calm, but here things have escalated so much everything has to be ratcheted back some. And tonight will be the first test to see all these outside efforts now in Ferguson to see if they start to turn the tide -- Erin.
BURNETT: David, thank you. Police still have not released the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown. Earlier today, the online group anonymous post the name of a person they claim is the officer, a name the police department quickly said was wrong.
It's the handling of this investigation, though, that has so many upset including Jermaine Wooten, a defense attorney, who is organizing the rally in front of the Ferguson Police Department tonight. He's been very instrumental in this and instrumental in perhaps a change in the tone tonight, if we do see that.
Jermaine, I'm curious as to what your response is to the police who insist their policy is to not release someone's name until they're formally charged. Do you think that's fair or do you think they need to put the name of that police officer out there right now?
JERMAINE WOOTEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's completely unacceptable. That officer's name needs to be released and it needs to be released immediately. I think the public has been demanding that the officer's name be released and Ferguson Police Department along with St. Louis County Police Department refuse to release that name. BURNETT: Now let me ask you about -- part of the reason, of course, they're citing is death threats. They are citing concern for the life of that officer, if that name were to be released.
Obviously last night what the nation saw was tear gas on the part of police, Molotov cocktails throw on the part of protesters, are we going to see more of that? Is that going to escalate?
WOOTEN: I don't anticipate the situation escalating at all. Most of the problems we've had has come at the behest of the police encouraging the demonstrators to act out. These people are coming out to peacefully -- to peacefully just ask for justice. That's all they're asking for.
And in turn, what does the police do? Point their guns at them. Push them around. I was out there yesterday when the CNN reporter was arrested. The police officers pushed me around, they pushed attorney that's all they're asking for.
And in turn, what does the police do? Point their guns at them. Push them around. I was out there yesterday when the CNN reporter was arrested. The police officers pushed me around.
They pushed attorney Gerald Christmas around. They pushed us from the scene. It's only so much we the public can take from this particular police department.
BURNETT: I want the make sure just to clarify for our viewers, that our experience at CNN so far with the police, they've been nice to CNN. CNN reporter was not arrested, although there was one from "The Washington Post" and "The Huffington Post" that were arrested, Jermaine, to your point.
BURNETT: But I want to ask you when you said the police are encouraging people to act out, how exactly is that the case? I mean, did they get the Molotov cocktails after the police encouraged them? I'm really try to get at that issue.
WOOTEN: Let me explain this to you. The people are coming out to assemble in a peacefully manner. The police officers can just step aside, allow these people to peacefully assemble. That's our first amendment right and that's all that was being done last night.
The police officers approached these individuals who were peacefully assembling and push them and asked them to leave. They had done nothing wrong. They had broken not one single law. And once the police officers started to tear gas these people and started to push these people around, that's when the Molotov cocktail was thrown.
BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Jermaine.
WOOTEN: Let me say this.
BURNETT: OK, sorry. Go ahead and finish. WOOTEN: But for the actions of the police, but for the actions of the police, we would have had no violence at all.
BURNETT: All right, Jermaine, thank you very much. You know, Jermaine's talking about the images that you most likely saw today, in the newspaper. If you watch television online, while you were at work, chaos in the streets of Missouri, in the United States.
I want to bring in, Daniel Isom, the former St. Louis police chief. You know, some of these images that we've seen are pretty striking. You have an American battlefield, in a sense, some of these images. Look at this picture here. Iraq on the left, Ferguson, Missouri, on the right.
There are many others like this when you see police in full tear gas mode with protesters. Here's obviously two soldiers with gun, one in Iraq, and one a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. How is it possible that this situation merits that sort of a response?
DANIEL ISOM, FORMER ST. LOUIS POLICE CHIEF: Well, they are striking images for the United States. We usually don't see that type of response in our country. What I think is that both the protesters and the police got locked in this cycle of escalation. Unfortunately, there were no lines of communication between the two, and so we are where we are today.
BURNETT: So what do you think about the point that Jermaine was making? He's saying -- and this is his perspective on it, the protesters were protesting peacefully. The police were waving their guns around. They were very threatening. That caused the protesters to then respond, to escalate up to the level of Molotov cocktails. Do you think that the police bear the blame here?
ISOM: Well, the police have two goals when you have a protest. You want to allow the protesters to express their first amendment right, give them the right to do that, but you also have to deal with people who want to commit acts of violence, vandalism and property damage.
You have to come to an agreement with the people who are peacefully protesting, allow them to have their space to do that and then very surgically extract those people who are committing acts of violence and committing crimes. So that was the lack of coordination and tactics that they use in this situation.
BURNETT: I'm curious as to your view as an African-American former police chief in St. Louis. Ferguson part of the broader St. Louis. That you're in a situation here where you have now in Ferguson a majority black population and a majority white police force. Do you think that race is part of the reason the police responded the way they did?
ISOM: Well, you can't say necessarily that race is the way they responded -- is a reason why they responded that way, but certainly race has something to do with this situation. There's clearly more anger in this community that goes beyond the Michael Brown situation. People are frustrated about their circumstances and about their relationship with the police and they're expressing their frustration out of this very, very tragic incident.
BURNETT: All right, Daniel, you'll be back with us in just a couple of moments. Thank you. I want to tell everyone where we'll be going here because we're monitoring these live pictures of protesters gathering in Ferguson right now.
A rally where the mother of Michael Brown may speak is also beginning in just a couple of moments. We'll be bringing you there and two reporters who were working in a fast food restaurant when police in SWAT gear stormed in and arrested them. We've got the video and one of those reporters OUTFRONT now to tell the story.
New U.S. air strikes in Iraq today targeting ISIS, but this is a serious question. What does ISIS have to do with Kobe Bryant? The deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq is OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Breaking news, police outside St. Louis on edge tonight bracing for more protests over an unarmed black teen who was shot and killed by police.
You're looking at live pictures of crowds mobilizing and I want to go to Don Lemon. He is in the middle of these protests. Don, obviously, I know you're now with people as they are gathering for tonight's protests and we're all wondering whether this will be a replay of last night's violence.
LEMON: I was just talking to them about that just before you came to me. I'm standing out here with a bunch of people. Let me show you where we are, Erin, because I think it's important.
This is the store that they believe Michael Brown left before he made his journey back to that street, that fateful street where he lost his life. So obviously it was a viable store then, now it looks like a burnt-out relic from a war zone.
These people have been assembling here hundreds of them, hundreds of them gathered within a short time. This young man struck me because he says, gas me, shoot me, I will stand my ground. What do you mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I understand that they say they're going to allow us to have a peaceful rally, but I know we live in America and there's some systemic things here that no one can really see that we all deal with.
LEMON: What's this a symbol of that you're wearing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That we're always ready. A possibility they could fire on us again and we're ready for it.
LEMON: Some of you have been out here six hours. Why are you here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am here because I believe in the statement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
LEMON: And you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out here because I think this is completely wrong and the police officer needs to face what he did and be punished for it.
LEMON: So Erin, what happens is that the protesters go up and down the street about a half mile, then they come back and go back to where Michael Brown lost his life. But as we have been saying this one has been an organized peaceful protest right in front of the Quick Trip, one of the places burned out near where Michael Brown lost his life.
We'll be here all evening and we'll see what happens. Hopefully this one will be peaceful this night is what I'm meaning. Erin, back to you.
BURNETT: All right, Don Lemon, thanks to you.
Even journalists who are covering the protests have gotten swept up in the unrest. You can see a television crew getting gassed. Two other reporters were arrested while they were working and charging their laptops at a local McDonald's after this confrontation which they filmed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop videotaping and grab your stuff and go.
WESLEY LOWERY, "WASHINGTON POST": Please don't make me go. You see me working. Please do not tell me to use my first amendment rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're down to 45 seconds. Let's go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That video was shot by Wesley Lowery of "The Washington Post." He was arrested with Ryan Reilly of "The Huffington Post," who joins me now. Ryan, what happened? That scene took place in McDonald's. What exactly happened?
RYAN REILLY, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": We were just working in the McDonald's because it's the most convenient place that has outlets and Wi-Fi connection. It's very close to where a lot of the center of the protests have been. The first week they shut down the entire street.
SWAT officers made their way into the McDonald's, talked to the manager. Initially we were going to be allowed to stay until they -- and then they left the building, subsequently returned, decided that they were shutting it down and gave everybody 45 seconds to get out.
It caught me and Wes from "The Washington Post" were both spread out there and had all of our things. We were planning on being there for a while and charging all our devices because we were preparing for a long night.
We evidently, when we tried to report what was happening, the police officers, because it was an incredible image of them going through and being very aggressive towards everyone in the building at that time during a peaceful daytime protest.
They apparently didn't take very kindly to us trying to record and we were not moving quickly enough for them. And that's when first Wes then I was placed under arrest.
BURNETT: Ryan, the president weighed in on what happened last night as, no doubt you're aware. But he was on his vacation, came out and talked about Iraq and what's going on in Missouri including what's happened to you and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here in the United States of America police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What was your reaction when you heard the president weigh in on what happened to you?
REILLY: It was sort of a strange sort of circumstance just following it on Twitter. I mean, it's just been sort of a bizarre I guess 24 hours now. And this isn't what I came here to do. I came here to report on what's happening here. You know, unfortunately, I've had a lot of material that hopefully I'm still going to get to use because this has been sort of a distraction.
But I do think it does speak to the way that police have been handling these sort of confrontations and needlessly escalating things and some of the changes that we see today are probably reflective of the unnecessary conflict that was created last night.
BURNETT: Ryan, thank you so much.
REILLY: Sure, thanks for having me.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Daniel Isom, the former St. Louis police chief. He is still with me. Let me just ask you. This question, you know, one reporter was doing work in a local McDonald's. He made a point of telling me they had actually bought food at McDonald's.
When they were accused of trespassing, that wasn't the case. They were paying customers. How could the police have done what they did? That's what I'm trying to understand. In this country, with the training that we would all expect, the basic training they would have, how could this have happened?
ISOM: Well, it's hard for me to imagine why they wouldn't let these reporters do their jobs, especially when we see coverage in war zones and reporters are giving us the news from very dangerous areas.
But I think the police department got locked into this command and control position where they were going to occupy this space and make sure that everyone removed themselves from this space.
What they didn't understand that the only way you were going to quell the situation is through dialogue and allowing people to express their first amendment right. And so that was a sweeping judgment that they made. Of course, it was not a wise strategy.
BURNETT: And of course, as everyone's aware, a lot of this, when this comes down to it, and not just in terms of the violence and in term of the police reaction, but in terms of what actually happened that night with Michael Brown and whether he was killed as a result of racism, you were an African-American police chief in St. Louis. Did you feel racism from white police officers?
ISOM: Well, I think all of us have to say there is racism within every organization that exists. There's racism in the police department, there are biases in the police department and those things happen within our community.
And so did I feel that in certain circumstances things that happen were because of racial tensions or because of racial differences or because people had biases? Of course, all of us have experienced those situations.
In this case, we are very distressed because we see a young African- American male who, by all accounts, was not doing anything illegal, and somehow from that contact he -- it resulted in him losing his life. There's a big question as to why did this occur, and how it occurred?
ISOM: All right, Daniel Isom, thank you so much, the former police chief for St. Louis.
Next, we are going to continue to monitor these protests as the crowds are gathering tonight in Ferguson.
Also breaking news from Iraq, the United States now says that ISIS is as credible a threat to the United States as al Qaeda.
And also coming up tonight, we learned Robin Williams was battling Parkinson's disease. The research that shows cocaine abuse that he was suffering from, was very vocal about, could be tied to Parkinson's.
BURNETT: Breaking news: new U.S. airstrikes on three ISIS terror targets in Iraq just a day after U.S. Special Forces determined the situation on Mt. Sinjar had improved. The situation for the religious minority group the Yazidis no longer enough to warrant an American intervention according to the Obama administration.
I want to show you a photo here. This is the first you'll see it. This shows U.S. forces meeting with Yazidis on that mountain yesterday. Those are the special forces there on the mountain that we've reported and this is first time you've seen a picture of one of those men standing there.
Also, today, big news on the political front. The prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki, announcing he is stepping down, ending his struggle to stay in power.
Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground in Baghdad.
Nick, just days ago, Maliki filed a lawsuit to stop the formation of a new government. He was fighting against the U.S. What made him cave?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's so important that this political deadlock has been lifted, Erin, because Nouri al Maliki dug his heels in, wanted the courts to rule if it was legal at all for the new president here to name a successor to him.
But it seemed in the past few days, this capital really caused tense anxiety, waiting for his final word, seeing his allies desert him one by one. Iran, Washington making it clear that they wanted him out of power, then many Shia politicians turning their back on him.
And then, finally, today, after a number of defiant speeches today, he went on state television and accepted that, yes, he would be surrendering his post to the man he refers to as his brother, Haider al Abadi, nominated a few days ago as the prime minister-designate. A self-pitying speech, self-justificatory in many ways, but at the end of the day, he said he was stepping down because he didn't want to see any innocent blood spilled.
He's holed up in the Green Zone, not far from where I'm standing, with a lot of firepower, but it seems that something has been said in the past few days to make him change his mind and decide that he's now comfortable, secure enough to leave the immunity of the position of power he has. Not quite clear, though, where his future lies, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much.
And, you know, joining me now is Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran.
And, Brett, you know, just heard our Nick reporting from Baghdad. An American intelligence official told CNN today that ISIS is -- and I just want to quote them -- now a credible alternative to al Qaeda which is obviously a significant statement to make. In January, the president gave an interview to "The New Yorker" about ISIS, and in that interview, he said, I'll quote him, "The analogy we use around here sometimes and I think it's accurate is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant."
Did the United States fail to recognize the threat of ISIS?
BRETT MCGURK, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR IRAQ AND IRAN: I think the president's spoken to the American people recently about how serious this threat is, and we consider it a serious threat and we have no question that ISIS is reaching for the mantle of the global jihad trying to eclipse core al Qaeda. But right now, it is focused on expanding its territory in Syria and Iraq.
And that's why we're so focused on getting a new Iraqi government that we can partner with and we can enable it to begin to push back. And that's why the political developments you mention tonight is so significant.
BURNETT: And, did, though, the situation from ISIS, their capabilities, completely change since the president said that in January?
MCGURK: Well, ISIS has been a growing threat. I think the president's been speaking about it for some time and we've been focused on it and the president has been focused on it for some time. The question is how you fight back against this. Nobody wants to go back to war in the Middle East. And we need capable and credible partners to begin to fight back.
One reason, again, we were so focused really over the last year particularly in Iraq, we had to have a national election in Iraq. That election was never a foregone conclusion. That election happened on April 30th, it was internationally supervised, it was credible, 14 million Iraqis voted. And now, we're in the process of transitioning to a new Iraqi government.
And that government will be formed over the coming weeks. It will develop a national program. And as it unites the country against this threat, the president has said repeatedly that we will be prepared to fully support it.
BURNETT: So, one key reason that the president gave for the airstrikes was to prevent possible genocide in Iraq and the group under threat was a religious minority. We heard just yesterday 10,000 to 20,000 Yazidis could have been on top of that mountain in Iraq. According to the United Kingdom-based monitoring group for Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 160,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past three years.
The United States has not used the word "genocide." The United States has not intervened. The United States has not conducted airstrikes.
How morally you say it's worth putting lives at risk for one group in Iraq and not for Syria?
MCGURK: Erin, I think you have to go back about 10 days ago to the situation that was developing on top of Mt. Sinjar. It was a unique and discreet circumstance in which tens of thousands of Yazidis were on top of the mountain and they were surrounded by ISIL terrorists who announced to the world that they were going to slaughter them.
And those Yazidis who did make it to the mountain, the men were separated, the men were killed. And the women were taken away and the women are still being held hostage. So, this was an urgent situation. We held immediate meetings here in
the White House. We looked at all the options. The president acted with decisiveness and dispatch to get food and aid to those people, and then we acted with airstrikes to break the siege of that mountain.
So, discreet circumstance in which our ability to effect an immediate change was apparent, the options were developed and we acted.
BURNETT: So, you say it was a discreet situation. But back in April, Samantha Power, the ambassador to the U.N. gave a speech to the U.N. about genocide. Talking about Syria, she compared it to what happened in Rwanda in the mid-1990s which, of course, was a horrific case of genocide. And she said and I'll quote her, "Twenty years from now, how will we reflect on this council's failure to help those people?" She was talking about Syria.
It sounds like she's referring to Syria as genocide, and in this case, it would be a significantly worse genocide, than Mt. Sinjar.
MCGURK: Well, we worked very closely with Ambassador Power again, and the president, and the national security team over the last 10 days to improve the situation on Mount Sinjar. And now, we're going to work very closely particularly in Iraq with our partners in the emerging new Iraqi government to begin to push back against ISIL. And, of course, we're also working with the moderate Syrian opposition that we're training a program to begin there, to deny space to ISIL.
Look, it's an extremely difficult and extremely complex circumstance. And in many ways, it took about 1,500 years from the fall of the Roman Empire for the borders of Europe to be sorted out. And we're about less than a hundred years from the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
So, there are a lot of changes going on in this region. And extremist groups are trying to take advantage of that. When a group like ISIL surrounds 10,000 people on a mountain and America can do something about it, we're going to do about it, and we did.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Brett McGurk.
MCGURK: Thank you.
BURNETT: Well, right now, everyone, we are monitoring the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, tonight, outside St. Louis, where protesters are gathering for rallies tonight. The mother of the teenager who was killed this weekend, Michael Brown, by all accounts unarmed and didn't seem to be breaking the law, may be appearing at one of these rallies where we are tonight. So, we are monitoring that as crowds gather.
We also are following the story of Robin Williams. Not only battling alcoholism and depression, but we found out late today fighting the early stages of Parkinson's. Was it too much of a burden?
BURNETT: Breaking news on the death of actor Robin Williams. His wife revealing today Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In a statement she writes in part, "Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly."
After Michael J. Fox who has been battling Parkinson's for 23 years responded to the news, in a tweet saying, "Stunned to learn Robin had Parkinson's disease. Pretty sure his support for our foundation predated his diagnosis, a true friend. I wish him peace."
OUTFRONT tonight, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, does this new information shed to you -- make any more sense to this as to why he might have did what he did?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's one of these tough things, Erin, right? I mean, it's always tough to say anything anybody says is going to make it make sense.
But I will say, there's a relationship between Parkinson's disease and depression. It's not so much that one causes the other, but someone who already has depression, if they develop Parkinson's disease, it could worsen their depression. In part, that's a psychological component to it. I mean, everyone thinks of the tremor and the things associated with Parkinson's disease, but there's also this idea that Robin Williams, he liked to exercise and cycle to relieve himself of his anxiety. He liked to help relieve the symptoms of depression and the realization that there's no cure for Parkinson's, there might come a time when he couldn't do those things anymore, could have worsened his depression.
So, it's tough to stay, as you point out, but there is a relationship between these two things.
BURNETT: A relationship between those two things and also a relationship, according to some research, that shows a link between cocaine abuse and Parkinson's disease. Williams, of course, has admitted to cocaine, along with other drugs, including alcohol. Could that have contributed to having early onset of Parkinson's?
GUPTA: There have been a few studies on this exact topic. One of the things to point out, you know, people -- there was a sort of -- a lot of use of cocaine in the late '70s, mid-'70s, early '80s. And the people doing that regularly they are getting to the point where they may get diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. So, we will know better probably over the next 15 to 20 years for real whether there was an impact.
But in the lab, you know, in laboratory studies, there has been some concern that people who used cocaine, it changed the brain in such a way that it made it more likely for dopamine, which is an integral part of the brain, to sort of disappear, and that can lead to Parkinson's disease.
So, we don't -- we just don't simply know for now. There were a couple studies looking specifically at acute Parkinson's disease. People take cocaine and they start to develop symptoms right away. And that never really panned out to be true. So, it's just tough to say.
BURNETT: And what about alcohol, which is something so many would have questions about -- alcohol's link to Parkinson's?
BURNETT: Yes. Well, so there's a couple of things. People who withdraw from alcohol can have something known as delirium tremens which can be associated with almost convulsive-like movements. You know, it's different from Parkinson's, but it does have a motor component to it as well.
And people who have depression or are taking medications for it, if they also drink, they can have significant side effects which can sometimes be confused for Parkinson's disease or Parkinsonism. But those are different things, though, still.
BURNETT: All right. Sanjay, thank you very much.
GUPTA: You got it, Erin.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, we're going to go back to St. Louis. Hundreds are gathering tonight. And we're going to show you some live pictures here. Our reporters are there at all the different places of the protest, including the now burnt-out store where Michael Brown lost his life.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: And our breaking news: hundreds of protesters gathering tonight in and around St. Louis, after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by police this past Saturday. There are also protests around the country, from Los Angeles to New York tonight.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT live in St. Louis.
And, Ed, I know that Michael Brown, the teenager who lost his life on Saturday night at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, right there in St. Louis, his mother may appear where you are. What is happening there?
LAVANDERA: Well, we had been told to expect an appearance by Michael Brown's mother but it doesn't look like she's going to make it in time from what we can tell. The gathering here in the shadow of the arch of St. Louis we thought was winding down, and now, a kind of an impromptu speaker have continued on the rally here, as you look in, about 1,000 people and what really stands out, Erin, is a very diverse crowd gathering here in downtown St. Louis tonight and listening to the speakers and what we've seen several times is a chant that we've heard repeatedly over the last few days, "hands up, don't shoot" in the entire crowd raises their hands and obviously, that in reference to what the eyewitnesses say Michael Brown had done when he was shot there in the neighborhood in Ferguson, that his hands were up as we were looking at the police officer in Ferguson.
So a lot of calls for support for Michael Brown's family and also calls for people to come together, several speakers taking note of the diversity of the crowd and making sure that this isn't in the words of one speaker, saying that this isn't the last time that they come together in seeking justice for all and they hope that the spirit of what they have started here tonight will continue here in the days and weeks ahead, here, not only in the St. Louis area.
BURNETT: Ed, you mentioned the word "diversity". And I wanted to ask you that point because a lot of people are wondering, is this just an issue of predominantly African-American community facing off against a predominantly white police force? But in terms of the people protesting tonight, how diverse is it?
LAVANDERA: Actually, much more so than I expected to be quite honest. We spent a great deal of time in the town of Ferguson where there are many protests going on tonight. Those clearly not as diverse as what we're seeing here. We're in downtown St. Louis so perhaps that has a lot more to do with it, but as we've been here for the last hour and a half or so, we've seen the crowd move into this area here in downtown St. Louis in extremely diverse crowd that has shown up at this event.
BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you.
And I want to bring in our legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin now.
And, Jeff, I guess the question is when we talk about what has been happening, I mean, obviously, protesters gathering tonight and last night you saw violence, you saw Molotov cocktails by protesters, tear gas used by police including tear gas used against camera crews.
Is the use of force out of bounds by police? Is there anything that would justify tear gas for example?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, you know, one of the things police officers are taught almost universally is something called the use of force continuum. And, basically, the idea is you try to control a situation with the least amount of force and the continuum goes roughly like this. It starts with officer presence, just a cop standing there, usually very effective.
And then you have verbal efforts, you know, a cop saying, don't do that. And then you have open-handed efforts, in other words a hand on someone's back usually often very effective. And then, you get into less lethal force -- batons, tear gas and then finally lethal force.
What you had last night was a ratcheting up immediately of police efforts which seemed to me and seemed to many people made the situation more confrontational rather than less. Tonight, what you've seen is officer presence but not confrontational behavior and that seems to be much more effective as we can see.
BURNETT: So, are they ever going to be able to determine whether they used excessive force, and if so, would there be any repercussions for any individuals who did it, or is this just going to be no one really knew who did it. So, that's fine, it just keep doing their jobs?
TOOBIN: Well, there is a lot of video out there and you can bet that there are going to be civil lawsuits, not just, of course, by Michael Brown's family, which is a virtual certainty they will sue for that use of lethal force and obviously, we need to know a lot more about what happened there, but people who are arrested -- I mean, I think for example, the two journalist who were arrested might well have a lawsuit.
So, you know, we have just begun to learn exactly what happened over these past few nights. So, civil lawsuits against the police are a terrific drain on the finances of a lot of cities. So, you know, this may be something in the offing. Remember, a lot of people had cameras going. So, we may yet know if excessive force was used.
BURNETT: How surprised are you, though, that the images that we've seen in Ferguson and we juxtaposed next to those in Iraq, that they seem so similar, that in a time with such concern and insecurity, we're seeing more of it in this country. Does it surprise you?
TOOBIN: It does. Fallujah on the Mississippi, that's what I was thinking.
And, you know, this is what happens when you give money to police departments to buy toys, they get them. And, you know, ever since 9/11, we have given a tremendous amount of equipment to police departments on the assumption that al Qaeda might be there and now, we see the cost of giving that kind of equipment to police officers. It's not all -- it's not all to the good.
BURNETT: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much and we will be right back.
BURNETT: And tonight on CNN, don't miss the series finale of our Emmy nominated original series, "THE SIXTIES". From the corner of hate in Ashbury in San Francisco, to a farm in Woodstock, New York. It's sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, because we know how to end it. You know you got to end it with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. That is tonight at 9:00.
Thanks so much as always for joining us. We'll see you again tomorrow night.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" hosted by Wolf Blitzer tonight begins right now.